CoJo was started in March of 2013 with an idea of how to make a Duck blind safer. This concept stems back to the Family's Patriarch, George B. Franklin Jr. My father carried his three sons hunting, from the time we were big enough to go. We were raised around guns and educated about gun safety at a very young age. He stated every time a gun was involved, "SAFETY FIRST". Every gun was treated like it was loaded and most were! I have raised my two children with the same principles and both of them are avid hunters.
Family Business in Gun Safety
Through his education, and the use of a computer program, my son Colton generated a 3-D rendering, which produced our first prototype using 3-D printing. We carried it to our family friend and neighbor, Phil Robertson to get his opinion and expertise. He stated "You boys really got something here, this product will save lives! It's simple, it's inexpensive, it's easy to mount, and it works. I want them and so will everyone else." The CoJo Gun Magnet was born, they were tried and tested in the field, and then the manufacturing, packaging, graphics, web design, and social media became our lives. My daughter Joanna has played a big part in the graphics, web design, and social media. This is a true, from concept to reality, family dream.
Remembering the Life of George B. Franklin Jr.
On Saturday August 12, 2006, I lost my closest duck hunting partner, a man whom I will never forget. He was in an accident involving an ATV which he was driving and lost control. I had seen and spoken to him that morning and he was bragging on the acorn crop while chewing on a mature head of millet. When the accident occurred, he was checking on some food plots that he had prepared for our upcoming hunting season and could not have been doing anything that he enjoyed more when he passed away. As all of you sportsmen know, there is nothing quite like the tight-knit relationship which develops after hunting with someone for nearly 40 years. To him, everyday we hunted together was always the perfect day, even if it was freezing cold, storming rain, or a beautiful bluebird day. Whether there were ducks cupped and falling in, or just one that flew by high, for it was always a special uninterrupted time to spend with his hunting buddies.
I will try to describe my friend in just a few words - frank, candid, pure, serene and noble; these traits of character added to the greatness of his generous soul. This man was George B. Franklin Jr. He was born in 1925 and considered himself a resident of Rayville and Holly Ridge, Louisiana. He left his community for a brief time during the years 1942-44. He enlisted in the Army Air Corp at the age of 17 weighing only 78 lbs. His weight was below the minimum requirements for enlisting therefore it took him multiple attempts before he was finally accepted by allowing him to fill out his own entry form. He served as a bottom ball-turret gunner on a B-17 bomber. He became a decorated staff sergeant who flew 35 missions over Germany and was back home at the age of 19.
This young man had a love for his country and a passion for its natural beauty. Not long after his return home he began his work in planting the first hardwood reforestation project in the south. His planting of these trees gave the research and laid the foundation by which 50 years later, a half million acres were planted in CRP and WRP in the lower Mississippi River Valley. He had a great love and respect for wildlife and believed in traditions but also looked ahead for the next generations with his desire to plant trees for the benefit of our future. He was a true conservationist, who created new habitat where ever he saw fit. He was very compassionate in his beliefs and taught many others through his God given abilities to envision and improve on many of our natural resources.
In 1966, he received the Wildlife Conservation Award. It was presented by the Louisiana Wildlife Federation in cooperation with the National Wildlife Federation for the wise use of land for the benefit of wildlife. In 1991, he was awarded the National Wetland Conservation Award presented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for conserving and restoring wetlands to the benefit of wildlife and other resources. In 1999, he was given the title of Louisiana Farmer of the Year. Throughout his life he was always involved in agriculture. George B. Franklin, Jr. was a farmer who was respected in his field and wanted to use only the best soil conservation practices. He was an innovator who always was alert for an opportunity to improve his land and make use of every resource available to him. He combined his work with pleasure, and his farming practices were construed for production and wildlife. He had been involved with wildlife and fisheries in just about every program offered concerning fish, deer, bear, turkey, geese and ducks. The following are just a few examples.
Fish: He was one of only two in the state to put his land in a federal program under the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service to build ponds for recreation in Louisiana. He built these ponds at his own expense and never received any funding under this program.
Deer: He had a hunting club for over 50 years with 50 or more members. Food plots were planted every year along with select cutting of timber to allow sunlight to grow browse for the deer population.
Bear: He assisted in catching, tagging, putting transmitter collars and releasing black bears on his property.
Turkey: When asked to assist the government, he paid for and released turkeys at three different times and places during the span of his life. They have become established and multiplied in all three areas.
Geese: In 1982, he built a forty acre pen, encompassing 3-5 acre ponds all at his own expense because he felt a need to help to restore the population of the Canada goose. He told me that during the time of war, while he was overseas, the Canadian goose population somehow was short-stopped from Louisiana and never came back.
Ducks: He was involved in many government programs including Quack Back, Partners in Conservation, Partners in Wetlands and Partners in Wildlife. He planted food plots for over 50 years, flooded green timber reservoirs, grafted trees, planted nutalls and built wood duck boxes. In 1966, he was the only participant who assisted in raising and releasing mottle ducks for the state of Louisiana in hopes to make this species a residence in north Louisiana. In 1990, they were documented in every wildlife management area in north Louisiana.
In 2005, he partnered with his close friend and neighbor Phil Robertson to start a free-flying mallard release program for the state of Louisiana. This was their idea, and they went to their government seeking assistance and the right to self-fund a three-year pilot study. An injustice was done to them that caused him great despair but through his resilient personality he never lost his vision on trying to maintain great hunting in north Louisiana. Because of his past experience with the Canadian goose population, he foresaw the same short-stop happening to the mallard duck, and wanted to counter this misfortune through his efforts in a mallard release program. In 2006, he did receive his protocol for a study in Louisiana but was still working on receiving a permit from the Federal Government to begin the study in 2007. We will be committed to continue his efforts.
George B. Franklin Jr. went through many trials and tribulations in his life. During World War II, there were many narrow escapes and dear friends lost but he was proud and honored to serve his country. He was a true American with a passion for freedom and had the sweetest, bravest heart of any man I ever encountered. By just being around him one could absorb his zest for life because after the war, he felt everyday was a gift from God. During his life he had confrontations with undulant fever, polio and two heart attacks, one attack at fifty years of age and another at seventy-two, followed by a four-artery by-pass, encephalitis and cancer. But he never complained, he just moved forward with a positive attitude. During these illnesses one would ask, “Mr. George, how are you doing?” his response would be “Don’t worry about me, I’m tough, how are you doing?"
He was a family man who was married for fifty-one years. He had a wife who was devoted to him, three boys that loved him dearly, and four grandchildren that hunted and fished with him every opportunity they had. Though his death was sudden, his life was not cut short, for he had lived a full and meaningful life in the way he wanted and left with no pain or suffering. He left behind a wonderful legacy that is larger than life even though he was of small statue. He wore just a size 6 boot but it will take all three of his boys to attempt to fill them. This I know, for I am proud and honored to say I am one of his sons. We will walk in his footsteps. Thanks be to God for the time he allowed us with our Dad. His memories will always be cherished and his legacy passed down through the generations.